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6 Secrets to Email Marketing: Be Sure You Have an Accurate List

March 26, 2015

With your strategy in place, it’s time to examine the foundation for your email marketing program – your list. Before you press the ‘send’ button on a single email – you must know whom you are about to communicate with.

This is the second article in a six-part series on email marketing. Read part one.

With your strategy in place, it’s time to examine the foundation for your email marketing program – your list. Before you press the ‘send’ button on a single email – you must know whom you are about to communicate with.

Creating a deep, permission-based database of contacts may be the most important component of your email marketing activities. The addresses on your list should match those people who will be receptive to your pitch and have given you permission to contact them.

To begin building this type of list, simply start asking your current customers for their email addresses. With all of the email spam people get, be prepared to be specific in letting them know what you will do with their email. Will you contact recipients about special offers? New product announcements? Tech tips? Whatever you plan to do – make sure you’re crystal clear about your intent.

Collecting email addresses for non-customers is, of course, much harder. But, this is obviously a vital activity to growing your list and your business. Many businesses turn to list purchasing, but this can be fraught with serious issues including your business being labeled a spammer.

Since many of the emails on purchased lists were likely harvested with the assistance of spider software that scans websites and other areas for emails, using these lists for your own email marketing could violate the CAN-SPAM Act. Enacted by Congress and enforced by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the CAN-SPAM Act – otherwise known as Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003 – sets rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to stop email and spells out tough penalties for violations.

You can find out more by visiting the FTC website ( but know that the fine for non-compliance can be costly. Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act can be subject to penalties of up to $16,000.

There are other ways to develop a home-grown list. Consider involving your existing customers by developing a refer-a-friend program that provides your current loyal customers with valuable incentives to share their contacts. Also make sure your website and your actual email includes a highly visible sign up box for anyone interested in receiving information.

Think about offering something of tangible value to gain access to addresses. A coupon, a promise of special discounts, free samples, a white paper or an informational newsletter are all good offers in exchange for the customer agreeing to receive your messages.

Make collecting contacts something you do in the normal course of your business by getting that information every time you meet someone – at a networking event or even a social gathering.

Next: Email Secret #3: Segment for Personalization

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